Tuesday, January 29, 2008

glazing done!

Started kiln & headed for home at 6:30 am, just in time to shower & make pancakes for the school bound.



Gordon B. Hinckley, one of the world's beautiful souls, died Sunday. He has been the president of my church for most of my adult life, and his optimism and joyous good humor, even with a long perspective, kept life hopeful for me.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

a valentine day

We hosted our annual mother-daughter Valentine card-making party yesterday. It's my very favorite party, though it also is the one that takes me the longest to clean up--I procrastinate my own card craft and keep out all of the paper and supplies because "just this afternoon...." I guess the love just kept buoying us along, too, because we ate lunch and headed to the salon to get our hair chopped for Locks of Love. This was the second time I've cut off a foot in an unsolicited act of support for a family member who has lost theirs ("for" my dad during radiation in 2001), and the second time I've fully regretted it. Oh well. A foot off of mine still leaves me with "long" hair. Though my new braid is pathetic. Marian is thrilled to death with her haircut, though Nathan and I are still a little in shock with her new bangs. We are a no-bangs family. But when the stylist asked, "Do you want bangs?" Marian gave her a resounding "Yes!" I, getting chopped next-chair, asked in surprise, "Marian, do you know what bangs are?" Vigorous nodding. Mom swallows her own anti-bang feeling, thinking (1) it's her hair and I want her to be thrilled, and (2)[this is kind of a bad-mom moment] oh well, it's all going to fall out soon anyway. I can stand it for a couple of months. But she looks very sweet and is, most importantly, thrilled. She slept in a night cap so that her dad, coming home after bedtime from meetings, can't see it until she shows him herself. I so can't say "Oh, Mare, I miss your beautiful long hair!" because the whole point of this is to give a cheerful transition to no-hair and be fully fully supportive. So I tell her she's adorable. Which will just never change. The girl is absolutely infectious.

On to the happier love stuff. I really enjoy our card-making parties. I think I hardly ever get my own cards made because I so love watching the very serious creating going on. I think I'm very lucky that I've proven my interest in these marvelous children enough that they love to come and show me what they've made. Some of those kids are prolific, coming home with just stacks. Some moms make Valentines, too, while others, like me, just enjoyed the spectacle of furious love craft.
My favorite photo: Miss C, Marian's classmate, using the bathroom window to use an embossing stencil (like my theblackapple goodness? I even bought this set before I knew she was such hotstuff). A child of writers, C is wondrously creative. I love peeking at her own writing when I visit their class (which I do every day to feed Marian. It has lucky benefits).
My favorite moment: A surprise visit from Marian's beloved first grade teacher. I couldn't get a good photo because she was so wiggly with joy. I made them pose this one (a re-creation of a candid I would have caught if my camera was glued to my hand and it didn't have such slow digital moments). We have been very lucky with this good woman.

just a short political post, I promise

Caroline Kennedy wrote a guest op-ed in the New York Times recently (I read it the text here) that articulated for me why I am increasingly leaning Obama. This line (okay, couple of paragraphs...I couldn't just copy the line over here in the end. It wasn't complete) is true to me:

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

I've recrafted my conclusion sentence a bunch of times and it just keeps being trite and full of buzz-words. I can't speak for the nation, I guess, just for me. And now have re-written that personal paragraph a bunch. What she said. Remember the title of his last book: The Audacity of Hope.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

ordering superstar tees

This is the same post I just put on Marian's blog. If project superstar is new-to-you, read this post. Better, see the whole story on imacraftartist.blogspot.com.

Thanks so much for all of your kind notes and interest in the superstar tees. I'm ironing out the order & hope to submit it tomorrow. To start, I'm going to just order a batch of 3 dozen to sell, then see how it goes from there. In later orders, other colors or styles may be available, but for now, we are ordering light blue printed with white, because Marian is demanding it (her "most beautiful like the sky" color), and choosing Gildan tees, because they are my picky husband's current favorite, fit-wise. You can see the men's here, the ladies here, and the youth here.

If you want to order a superstar tee, please e-mail me at three_goats@yahoo.com, with "superstar tee order" in the subject line. Let me know what style and size you want, and the address where I should send them. I would prefer you just pay via paypal, using the same e-mail address, but if you want to send me a check or money order, also indicate that, and I will send you back my mailing address. One tee will be $10, including shipping, and additional tees $8 each. For local folks (ie, no shipping hassle involved, make that $7 & $6).

When you get your tee shirt, please send us a photo of you wearing it (digital to the same address is fine; I'll print them), so we can put them all up in Marian's hospital room: the superstar supporters who love and believe in our very brave, extra-charming girl--the original superstar!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Marian's published!

whipup.net published Marian's snowglobe necklace tutorial today. We are very excited. Kits for the snowglobes are the first of her project superstar products (available in the shop, to keep it simple), and are selling like hotcakes :).

Very fun.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

good mail

One day last week we had a postal miracle. No bills. No junk mail. No magazines. Just eagerly anticipated packages.

First was a package from the good folks at a children's hospital in Virginia (Children's Medical Center,
Virginia Commonwealth Health Systems
), responding to a search from the amazing Sue Stewart at bmtinfonet.org for literature written for young marrow donors. I e-mailed bmtinfonet requesting contact with a family who went through the BMT experience at our hospital, and the next day received a contact number. I followed up asking about books for donors, and she immediately contacted a dozen hospitals, one of which sent the package. It included Me and My Marrow (you can read the online version here: Marian has loved it) and The Gift, a book/workbook specifically for young marrow donors. I had seen a copy at Vanderbilt a few years ago, but didn't remember the name and couldn't find any information online (I still can't).

Second was an "extremely informative period chart" that I ordered from artist Keri Smith. It cracks me up plus I need it.

Third was a pack of scarves I won on ebay, all Vera (I like the ladybug signatures) and silk or silk blends. Marian and I have decided that they will be her headcovering of choice when chemo takes her lovely hair. So soft & beautiful! You can see Marian and her scarves in a photo on her blog here. I really wanted this particular batch of scarves, so, for the first time, looked up the gal I was bidding against to see what she bought/what she paid for it. Mostly size 24 Old Navy skirts and silk scarves. Sounded formidable, so I bid 2x what I ended up paying. Phew!

Fourth was a be-still-my-delighted-heart package from the small object. It took me awhile to get on the small object bandwagon, but now I'm just a goner. I think it was the free download of the thumb wrestling championship belts that really snagged me (I included printouts in most of my family Christmas mailing boxes :)), and when the newest shop update was planned for midnight, January 10th (?), I was there. . Every little detail is whimsical delight. Like I was going to wait until morning to open it for good pictures, so I'm afraid they suffered, but Look How Cute. I'm dying. Plus she included a candle. My dear friend Sarah is turning 10 on Saturday and I get to use my Celebration Candle Kid for the first time when she comes to our annual Mother-Daughter Valentine party.

new pottery

I'm having a hard time deciding what to post here, and what on my daughter's site, "I'm a craft artist" (her own title choice when her sister, then age 8, who will not let me be any part of her blogging or artistic life, helped her set it up). The projects that are mostly hers belong there, I think, but they also show our life. Her posting is ramping up. I suggest you take a peek; we've had some great collaborations. http://imacraftartist.blogspot.com.

Both girls worked on their tree stump homes on Monday morning. The photos I took (I love this sunlight one, though also show some of my happy new pottery projects, my own tree stump houses for bitty buddies and a series of cupcake stands, inspired by my happiness with the small object's celebration candle kids (hooray for me! I bought this one:)

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Caitlin's Smiles

My daughter Marian is having a bone marrow transplant after Easter, the details of which I can rattle off blithely, but are also tearing little holes in my heart. For both of us (and to drive everyone else in the house, i.e., Nathan, crazy) to have something positive to focus on during our preparation (though she does take her scientific studies extremely seriously for a 6-year-old), we've decided to raise money to buy new craft supplies for her hospital and housebound distractions. A BMT also involves a non-existent to severely crippled immune system, so germs are extra scary and the hospital recommends only using brand-new craft supplies, many of which they will provide, but since I'm kind of a materials snob...

Marian's *s u p e r s t a r* project emerges!

We have grand selling-Marian-art plans, which I'll start to share more of when our stock of darling things is high enough. We have grand supporting Marian plans (a re-issuance of the superstar tee at cost, addresses where you can mail jokes and notes once we're inpatient, a hospital room decorating scheme...). We also have grand desires-to-help plans. The money will be Marian's to spend on new craft supplies to help make the whole thing more bearable. The girls and I thought it would be lovely to use extra Marian-raised funds to make craft kits for other ill kids, too. As I started the internal brainstorming session of where-who-what, I remembered coming across a local organization that donated craft supplies to hospitals, and thought it would save me a lot of trying to network (which, to a phone-phobic, is a very grand plan) to just try to work with them. My google search (Harrisburg, craft, kids, hospital) was happily a quick success, my e-mails answered quickly, and tonight the girls and I drove to participate in a craft-kit assembly night so I could scope out the possibilities for future involvement. I was very impressed, Audrey and Marian inspired, and connections made without a single phone call. God bless the internet.

The organization is called Caitlin's Smiles. Since they're local, I assumed it was a kind of small operation, but learned tonight that they send out 4-5,000 bags every month. !!! Tonight, we decorated delivery bags (each gets a coloring book, crayons, pen, journal, handmade card, and a few craft kits), made get-well cards, and assembled little craft kits (I do love wee ziplocs).
The girls loved it mostly because of the glitter glue. I loved it because ordinary people wanting to do good overwhelms me with gloriousness every single time I see it. A very hopeful thing, that.

The top photo is Marian, with one of the bags she worked on. (My favorite of her cards read: "I wish you have hope in your body".)

My Audrey, an awesome big sister and miracle donor, concentrating.
A partial group shot. The assembly night, the first of a now-regular series, was held at the district office for Wendy's restaurants. One of the managers there was approached by Caitlin's Smiles for left over toy donations, and is now on the board. I liked her immediately because she's a Valerie, too, and kept on doing so because she is one of the good guys. Most of this evening's crew were restaurant managers and workers at Wendy's. More of the good guys. A cool thing about being hooked to the Wendy's network, too, is that Valerie can send supplies to the Wendy's near me via her traveling district managers, so I don't have to drive the 45 minutes to Harrisburg. Making cards or assembling craft kits would be a great church service activity, and we're planning on at least a couple of work parties at our home in the next couple of months, too. So slick.

Monday, January 14, 2008

leaning more and more obama

Obama was my favorite from the beginning, and even more so after reading this. I just might be giving Hillary too much credit.

wee trees

After seeing the little wool felt tree in a Cotton Time magazine (posted by molly chicken here) sometime this fall, I wanted a little grouping of my own, and actually did finish them before Christmas. I packed them away with my Christmas stuff on Saturday (finally!), but am now thinking they'd still be appropriate for the seasonal table. I included a couple in a needle-felted playset I made for an etsy customer in December.
And...yet another reason everyone needs stacks of perfect little clay bowls: to hold sparkly seed beads.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


I'm trying to standardize my mugs and bowls a bit: 1/2, 3/4, 1, & 1 1/4# bowls shown above. You can see that there is still a lot of variation. I'm just not willing to commit to one shape. What's the point?

I threw & trimmed this batch last week, and barely started the handles. They take
s o
l o n g . . . . . . I'm trying to take advantage of the time I have before the students come back to school and class time cuts into "my" studio time :).


My youngest daughter has a complicated medical life that includes some growth troubles, and I have long been embarrassed that I roll up her sleeves, etc. instead of just fixing them, especially since I sew! I always adjust what I make for her, of course, but since my crafting interests have expanded, I do less plain ol' sewing than I used to (I sewed a lot of Audrey's clothes). I finally gathered her shirts and knit dresses that needed adjusting and did the whole batch in evening snatches this week. The impetus was the purchase of this darling Gymboree one-piece jammy, which was the right sleeve length and, I thought, long enough for her tummy if I cut it just at the crotch, though not full enough. She has a Mic-KEY button feeding port that leaks if she wears anything tight. I fell in LOVELOVELOVE with the little squirrels at the after-Christmas sale price,I thought, hey, I can just use fabric from the legs to add fullness to the belly, and....(stories I tell myself when holding very soft knits on sale, though I too-often don't follow it up with action). The pictures are all low-light orangey, because it was late, and I took them pre-pressing, so they're not as lovely as they could be, but school resumed the next day, and she liked the squirrels as much as mama.

I cut the one-piece in two at a point that allowed for a long top and still enough length in the cut-off legs to have a large enough piece to insert a gusset at the side seams. I unpicked all of the hems and seams, rather than just slicing them off, to maximize the cloth size, and was grateful for every inch.I cut the largest sides of the legs into as big a wedge as I could, nearly as tall as the sleeve-to-hem seam that I unpicked, and just inserted it. Since I have an ancient Bernina, not a fancy serger, I just zigzagged the edge, which holds up very well and looks quite neat, even if it's not as speedy.
Both to maximize length and to satisfy a little girl who loves them, I chose to use a ruffly lettuce hem, which I didn't know I could do without a serger until I read about it on craftster. I'd tried it a year ago or so, and it worked pretty well. Set your machine to a fairly narrow zigzag with a short seam length (for me, it was nearly "0"), and zigzag the edge while stretching the knit as much as you can. On later sleeves, I found that folding the edge just-under with my fingers while sewing and stretching leaves a neater hem. I also started using an even shorter seam length, which left a better satin hem. Attempts while adjusting my technique. The final product! I'll have to get a photo of it on her to add later. I sewed a little squirrelly patch on the bottom of one of my tees, too, I loved it so. On try one, the knit-on-knit stretched a lot and got all wonky. For try two, I used a bit of wonder-under to hold it in place, which worked nicely. I'm hoping it will wash up even better.

My husband rolled his eyes, but in a happy-for-me sort of way. I think he said I was cute. I'm very happy to have me some squirrel love, too. Plus, sharing acorns! So awesome.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

etsy holidays

I'm afraid that I was busy enough with my own etsy shipping and such that my darlings didn't get a lot of handmade joy from me this Christmas....they're a bit tired of my stuff, anyway....but they did get handmade joy from others. Besides the magic cabin delights that I'll show sometime later, these came to stockings and tree packages at our house.

Sweet woodland hair accessories from marymarsh
(plus some for me!)

Iris and Moonbeam pixie (the moonbeam was a custom order, the iris just happened to turn up with perfect timing for a girl who thought a lavender flower was the kind of fairy she'd like to be...sneaky mama questions...) from the darling and reasonably-priced tiddlywinks
(her animals are even cuter)

flipbooks from green chair press

squirrel goodness from riotsqurrl
(also to me)

calendar from creative thursday...oops, both Santa and my husband brought me this one...naughty me to buy something from the favorites list I directed him to...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

a rather dubious late night scissor project...

Since the girls are back to school tomorrow & I am (hooray!) therefore back to the studio & leaving home early to deliver all of us to campus, I decided to take a late-night shower.

After making the very interesting discovery during my comb-out that my hair was long enough to hit the ceiling when I flipped it, I realized it had been nearly a year since my last trim.

After examining my ends to see how uneven they were (not too bad), I thought I'd give myself my first self-cut.

After starting, I realized it as an extremely ill-advised late night craft project.

After finishing, I was happy to remember that, especially at great lengths, hair is very much a moving target and no one will ever know if I did a perfect job or not.

After typing the "perfect", I am thinking "rotary cutter" ....(if they could iron hair in the 70s....).

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

thank you!

We finished up 2007 with thank you notes. Forcing my family through the process demands continual pressure (all day long, and still I only squeezed 2 out of Nathan, under great duress), but, in the end, the girls were dancing with excitement (they really do this) about giving and receiving their notes. Audrey developed a new watercolor technique, and once I re-remember my YouTube account info, I'll post a little video tutorial she graciously shared...You can see Marian adopting her idea below.

[Although I started to crop it out, I like how this photo shows evidence of more of our holiday fun. The arrangement our landlord sent us for Christmas. A "saved" game of Bohnanza (thank you, Cody!). My little origami book that Audrey pulled out and the girls used to make folded books (Marian's is all about penguins, and Audrey's is a manual of games that can be played with "1-8 people" and the coveted vintage Vera silk scarf Marian found in her stocking). My beloved old avocado Bernina, which finally hemmed the girls' Christmas Eve nightgowns yesterday. The (*sob*) last issue of Blueprint, inspiring me to get organized...funnily enough, the only idea I've really implemented is to recognize, in the "before" shot of a kitchen re-do, the same microwave cart we have, and decide to pull our microwave off the counter and onto the cart. Hopefully instead of the junk that accumulates. Yup, we effectively got ideas from a "before". Awesome.]
To make the process a little less painful, as well as set practical parameters to it, I help the girls to list who deserves a special thanks (Santa included), and print templates on the computer. This year, I chose white cardstock foldover cards so each could feature a little bit of original seasonal artwork. They chose their own font, and how they wanted their fill-in-the-blank text to read.
I picked up this little red tin mailbox in the Target dollar bins last week, part of the Valentine goods, and using it to deliver the in-house notes brought immediate gratification. And the dancing I mentioned earlier.

**the girls and I also started working today on an important new project that we'll "unveil" in a couple of weeks, both in our (really, I'm going to send them!) New Year's cards and here, though it will mostly be tracked on Marian's blog. 2008 will be a very pivotal year for our little family. With great hope, we proceed!

[My New Year's ringing in was the least auspicious ever. The earlier evening was very nice; our friends Ed & Glenda invited us over for games & treats, but we brought the girls home to bed around 8. Late nights have been particularly crabby-inducing lately, so no "fun mom" this year. Nathan fell asleep in front of the TV, his favorite thing, and I scrubbed--baking soda & vinegar!--and rearranged the kitchen. Didn't notice the changing of the time. Maybe this will portend of a new and kitchen-responsible me. Ugh. But the "new" kitchen is much nicer. And day 1 does end with it clean.]